The Murder of Joel Holcombe, Home Guard Officer
The Murder of Joel Holcombe by Joe Shelton In August of 1865, Joe Shelton and two other men rode to the home of Joel Holcombe in Madison County, North Carolina and shot him while he was working outside. Then, it is claimed, Shelton proceeded to scalp him. The only excuse given for the murder was that Mr. Holcombe had been a militia officer in the Confederate States Army in Madison County. Joe Shelton was a recruiter for the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (US), also known as “Kirk’s Raiders,” operating out of Shelton Laurel in Madison County. The majority of men in this regiment were deserters from nearby Confederate units and mostly from the 64th N.C. Infantry Regiment (CSA). It is well documented that men from the Shelton Laurel area and those of the home guard in Madison County and the 64th N.C. Infantry Regiment were in many altercations during the Civil War. Revenge killings continued for several years after the war’s end because of this feud. Joe Shelton was arrested on Sept. 27, 1870 in Burnsville by Deputy Sheriff John W. Woodfin for the murder of Joel Holcombe.